[Article mis à jour à 15h50 avec la réaction de Donald Trump]
It’s official: Elon Musk has taken over Twitter. The boss of Tesla and SpaceX concluded the acquisition, Thursday, of the social network for 44 billion dollars, according to what he had proposed at the end of last April. This was announced by several articles in the American specialized press.
As proof, the billionaire tweeted “the bird is released” Thursday evening, in reference to Twitter’s nickname, the blue bird. The Tesla boss said earlier in the day that he was buying Twitter to ” help humanity » and allow all opinions to be expressed freely on the social network. The ambition to save humanity, the environment or democracy comes up regularly in the projects of Elon Musk who, interviewed on his reasons for acquiring Twitter, had mentioned a ” risk to civilization » if users lose trust in the platform.
A tweet to which the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton replied, recalling the obligation for the new boss of Twitter to respect, in Europe, the regulations on the major platforms which have just been adopted. “In Europe, the bird will fly according to our European rules”thus tweeted that is the initiator of this legislation.
Twitter boss fired
And the businessman, born in South Africa, 51-year-old American and Canadian citizen, wasted no time. Upon his arrival at the head of the blue bird platform, he immediately dismissed the boss Parag Agrawal and two other leaders, the financial director Ned Segal and the head of legal affairs Vijaya Gadde, according to anonymous sources of the chain. CNBC and the Washington Post. Even before this takeover, Elon Musk had already told investors that he ultimately intended to lay off almost 75% of Twitter’s 7,500 employees, according to information from the American media.
Elon Musk had also announced, upstream, his intention to take Twitter out of the stock market. The company would then more easily escape any external control. He also intends to relax the moderation of content, which he considers too strict, as demanded by the American right. He had also claimed that profitability was not his priority, that he would fight spam better, and he had made cryptic allusions to “X”, his vision of an all-purpose application (messaging, social network, financial services, etc.), such as WeChat in China.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request from AFP.
Elon Musk to pay $27 billion for Twitter
It is therefore the end of a case that has lasted for almost six months and which will have known many twists and turns between April 2022, the date on which Elon Musk made an offer to acquire Twitter at 44 billion dollars, which was accepted, to July when he finally decides to withdraw unilaterally from the agreement, until the beginning of October when he finally announced his desire to conclude the transaction at the initial price: 44 billion dollars, thus avoiding a lawsuit in November .
This sum is partly financed directly by the man who is the richest man in the world and who has put part of his personal heritage on the table. Initially, he only wanted to devote about $15 billion of his own money to the operation. A significant portion of the package, $12.5 billion, was to come from loans backed by its Tesla shares, which prevented it from selling them. But he finally decided to offer more in cash and to give up this loan. In two waves, in April and August, the 50-year-old accustomed to controversy sold about 15.5 billion dollars worth of shares in the electric car manufacturer. The one whose fortune is estimated at around 220 billion dollars by Forbes magazine, will therefore pay directly a little more than 27 billion dollars. To note that he had entered the capital at the beginning of the year and already controls 9.6% of Twitter after buying shares on the market.
Investment funds, large fortunes and 13 billion dollars in bank loans
On the other hand, the financing of this agreement is based on some 5.2 billion dollars contributed by investment funds and large fortunes, in particular the co-founder of the software publisher Oracle, Larry Ellison, who made a check for one billion, or Qatar Holding, controlled by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority. In exchange for their investment, all will receive securities and become shareholders of Twitter. This group is completed by the Saudi prince Al-Walid ben Talal, who brought Elon Musk the almost 35 million shares he already held.
Finally, the balance, i.e. 13 billion dollars, is provided by bank loans, released by a group of establishments including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, the Japanese Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho, Barclays and the French Societe Generale and BNP Paribas. According to documents submitted to the US Markets Authority, the SEC, Morgan Stanley alone lends about $3.5 billion. These loans are backed by Twitter and it is the group, and not Elon Musk, who will assume the financial burden and repayment.
A financial challenge
Globally used, the Twitter platform has however, so far, struggled to generate profits and in particular published an operating loss (result directly linked to activity) over the first six months of 2022. This debt will therefore put the platform under pressure. financial and could also weigh on the other activities of Elon Musk, namely Tesla, the first manufacturer of electric vehicles in the world and SpaceX, his space company which must help NASA to send astronauts to the Moon by 2025. “Obviously we will pay way too much, but the potential (of the platform) is far greater than its current value”he recently told analysts at Tesla’s earnings conference.
It remains to be seen whether he will manage to make him experience the same success as the car manufacturer. Long in deficit, the company is, in fact, now an immense industrial and financial success, with a record profit of 5.5 billion dollars in 2021 and an immense stock market valuation (710 billion dollars), which weighs four times that of Toyota, the world’s largest manufacturer. However, from 2017 to 2019, the company was ” constantly on the verge of bankruptcy »explained Elon Musk, specifying: ” I lived in the factory in Fremont, California, I slept on the floor so the team could see I wasn’t in my ivory tower ».
Because this native of Pretoria in South Africa is a regular of success. Son of an engineer father and a Canadian model, he studied in Canada and then in the United States before launching, at the age of 24 with his brother Kimbal, Zip2, an online software publisher. He became a millionaire before his 30th birthday by selling it to the computer manufacturer Compaq in 1999 for more than 300 million dollars. The young entrepreneur then founded X.com, which was merged with PayPal, then bought by eBay in 2002 for 1.5 billion. Then comes SpaceX, founded in stride, which becomes the linchpin of NASA’s new ambitions. ” The overall goal is to allow life to develop on several planets and to make humanity a space civilization »said Elon Musk in an interview with Time Magazinewho named him at the end of 2021 personality of the year.
ZOOM – Trump is delighted that Twitter is now “in good hands”
Former US President Donald Trump said Friday that Twitter is ” in good hands “, after the takeover of the social network by Elon Musk. ” Twitter is now in good hands, and will no longer be run by radical left crazies who genuinely hate our country. “, he said on his network, Truth Social. The Republican billionaire hasn’t said if he plans to return to the platform, from which he was banned after the Capitol stormed.
Elon Musk, the new boss of the social network, had opened the door in May to a return of Donald Trump on Twitter, which would have the effect of an explosion. With his @realDonaldTrump account, the former American president spoke directly to his 88 million subscribers, regularly arousing heated controversy. Donald Trump, however, felt that his Truth Social network was working ” better “than Twitter, which he believes must” work hard to get rid of all the fake accounts and bots that have hurt him so much “. ” I LOVE TRUTH “, he added.